Native New Yorker Kemba Walker admits he almost came home last summer to play for the Knicks.
But they couldn’t land another star, and the rest is history. Walker ended up in Boston – currently third in the Eastern Conference, bound for the playoffs – while the Knicks have ended up bound for the lottery. Again.
Walker – who was born in the Bronx and starred at Harlem’s Rice High School – appeared on The Ringer’s “R2C2” podcast with Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia, and was asked if he seriously considered his hometown team.
“Yeah, honest, yes,” said Walker. “Yes, very serious. Very.
“At one point…yes, yes, very serious. Before Boston actually came along, the Knicks was one of my top priorities, actually, because I was thinking they were going to get another player.”
Then, after a long pause, Walker shrugged “Ummm, but it didn’t work out.”
Former Yankees lefty Sabathia told Walker he made the right decision, and all three laughed. The Knicks, 21-45, are back near the bottom of the East with the sixth-worst record in the league as the NBA bubble commenced without them.
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“Yeah, that’s pretty much all I can say. The Knicks, they were definitely a priority,” Walker said.
Ruocco, who broadcasts both the Nets and Yankees for YES Network, asked if that second aforementioned star’s name rhymes with Slevin Lurant, a reference to Kevin Durant.
“Nah, nah,” Walker laughed.
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, had long been rumored to be headed for the Garden, before Brooklyn swooped in and lured both he and Kyrie Irving with a stronger culture and deeper roster.
Walker pivoted and ended up inking a four-year, $140 million contract with the Celtics, who are a contender in the East.
The Nets entered Friday seventh in the East, with a magic number of just one to clinch a second straight playoff berth – despite Durant having not played a second and Irving logging just 20 appearances all season.
The Knicks – who haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 – hired veteran coach Tom Thibodeau in an effort to stabilize and build a winner. But by the sound of Walker, stars might be more concerned with who they have on the court than sitting in the coach’s chair.
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